The Unique Identification Authority of India, or UIDAI, is getting ready to enable mobile payment transactions based on Aadhaar, the country’s national biometric ID program.
Following a recent ministerial meeting on how to facilitate the Prime Minister’s Office’s promotion of digital payments, the UIDAI has announced that it will release an Android app this month that will let credit and debit cardholders enter their Aadhaar number to pay for goods and services. For authentication, the app will require a fingerprint or iris scan, with the biometric data verified against what has been registered via Aadhaar.
It’s another example of the biometric ID program’s ever-broadening reach and utility, with the mobile app being an important component of a broader effort to digitize India’s economy and increase economic accountability. And it may also point to increasing friction with foreign tech companies: While India’s government has displayed an interest in working with organizations like Apple and Google to integrate Aadhaar into their own products and services, those companies’ interest in protecting their technologies from outside intrusion may hinder or prevent such cooperation. Meanwhile, as the government seeks to promote UIDAI’s new Aadhaar payment app among merchants and the public, it could establish a strong market barrier to Apple Pay and other such mobile payment platforms, which could either compel the tech companies to start working with Aadhaar, or push them further away.
December 8, 2016 – by Alex Perala